Michael W. Johnson was born on 1 September 1949. He received his B.S. (Physics) from the University of San Francisco in 1971, his M.S. (Physics) from the University of Toledo in 1974, and his Ph.D. (Astrophysics) from the University of Pennsylvania in 1981. His doctoral thesis was entitled, "HEAO A-1 Observations of X ray Emitting Clusters of Galaxies," and he was an author of a 1983 catalog of X-ray emitting clusters.
Johnson was on the science faculty at Maryville University, in St. Louis, Missouri, where he lectured on physics and astronomy. He was husband of attorney Delores M. Johnson and had three daughters. Michael Johnson died on 13 April 2007.